Would I say yes?

Last night at our house church meeting, there was a discussion about Abraham following God's astonishing call, and what things we have in our lives that might prevent us from following Abraham's example.

It's a hard question to consider. There were a number of answers - family, job and more - but I wonder if they really hit the core problem.

Years ago, I heard a sermon on being God's friend. Anyone who would be a friend of God, said the preacher, will be tested in three areas, after the pattern of Abraham. The first is trusting God for material provision. That's not always easy, as Abraham no doubt discovered when he got to "the place I will show you," and found ... famine. And it can be pretty traumatic for us to think we trust him and then suddenly lose our job and find our trust was a little shaky. But it's not an impossible task.

The next is to trust God with our reputation. Now we've moved up the "difficulty ladder" several steps. We value a good reputation, and we should. To have our reputation destroyed, especially unfairly by someone else, can be devastating.

I was in that situation one time, and found myself struggling to find a reason to continue living. I was confused, and didn't understand why my world had suddenly fallen apart. People I considered as close friends avoided me. I was sitting in church one day, struggling in a black pit of despair, when God spoke to me. "Do you trust me?" Yes, Lord. I do. "Do you trust me with everything?" Yes I do, Lord. "Do you trust me with your reputation?" Yes, Lord, I... I stopped. Did I?

I never understood before that the importance of our reputation. It's a huge part of our self image and self esteem. When mine was torn away, I wanted to die. Did I trust God with my reputation?

After some struggle, I came to trust him, even with that. But it was far more difficult than mere unemployment. And I don't want to go through it again.

Third, we will be tested to trust God with our deepest longings. What is the core desire of my heart? Do I trust God with that? For Abraham, it was Isaac. And scripture recounts an utterly amazing scene where God tells Abraham to take his son - "your son, your only son, whom you love" - and kill him as a sacrifice to God.

This is beyond my comprehension. What would I do? I don't know. The question is too hard for me.

For me, I think the desire of my heart has been to make a difference in the kingdom of God, to be a factor in changing lives and helping people grow into fully committed followers of Jesus. My great fear has been that God would not use me, that for some reason, I would be unworthy and passed by.

Then the question came to me: What's the real desire of my heart? Is it to do things? Or is it to truly know God? To know him deeply and in truth?

I have posted the question elsewhere: "If all that is permitted to you in this life is to truly know God, is that enough?" It's a hard question, but a very good one.

What the obstacle for you? What keeps you from saying and unqualified yes to God?

9 Comments

This is a terrific question and discussion.

As for myself, if I had such a profound encounter with either G-d or Messiah like Abraham, Moses, the Prophets or Paul did...then absolutely I would be able to walk easily away from everything and everyone and do what was asked of me. [As an aside, I really do not think it was all that difficult for the others mentioned above to do the same...to obey G-d or Messiah in everything that was asked of them given their encounters] Under the same circumstances, there would be NOTHING in my life that would hold me back or stop me. BUT...I have not had such an encounter and am not likely to have such an encounter in my lifetime.

Brook,

Thanks for your comments. A question: Given that most of us have not had the sort of encounter with God characteristic of Moses or Abraham (though we don't know what Abraham's initial call from God was like), and considering that God clearly still calls people and we are still accountable to obey him, where does that leave us? Are we perhaps looking for the wrong thing?

A question that comes to me concerns how Abraham knew it was God when he was called. Even when God came for lunch, there were apparently three "men." How did Abraham know who they were? Was his encounter with God actually that dramatic?

True...we do not know what Abram's encounter with G-d was like, but it must have been quite profound. Abram came from the city of Ur which was devoted to the worship of the moon god Sin (or Nanna). Abram's father was a maker of idols and it is assumed that Abram worshipped Sin as did his father (tho Jewish tradition teaches otherwise about Abram being an idol-worshipper). Since Abram did not have the benefit of holy writ, tradition or scripture to instruct him, I can only assume that his encounter with G-d was dramatic. He left behind a thriving idol making industry that was owned by his father and one can only reason that Abram's father and the family was quite wealthy given that not just anyone was allowed to create idols for worship by others.

Now, I am not saying that Abram, Moses, the Prophets or Paul had an easy time of it after they decided to follow G-d, but I think their decision was easy to make given their encounters with G-d (except for maybe Jonah and Elijah who both tended to be a bit whiney).

I still believe that G-d calls people but I am not sure how one called experiences that "calling". Is it a dramatic or revelatory experience or encounter with G-d? I do not discount that such things may still occur as G-d is sovereign and will do what He wishes to do. Or is it something more subtle? I do not know and I would imagine that the "calling" differs from person to person.

The only problem or danger that I would see in the more subtle "calling" would be this...is it a real "calling"? Or is it merely a manifestation of one's own wants, needs or desires?

In the end, I guess it is between the person and G-d.

Brook,

After more consideration, I am not so certain that Abraham had such a dramatic initial encounter. I am certain that the "first monotheist" label is wrong, and that there were people -- perhaps including Abram -- who worshiped the true
and living God. Abraham's later -- but not much later -- encounter with Melchizedek (don't know the English spelling right off) and the way M. is described suggests to me that there were other worshipers at the time, at least in Salem.

I have come to believe that Abram was not the only worshiper, but was the one pertinent to the narrative of the Bible, and so the only one mentioned.

I certainly do not think that Abram was the only believer at the time that he was called by G-d. After all, Noah and Shem both were still alive (as you may recall, I adhere to the Jewish teaching that Melchitzedek was Shem, the son of Noah...and the Jewish Sages have taught that it was Shem who was responsible for spreading the word about the true G-d). But I do think that Abram was an idol worshiper (which is sharply disputed by the Rabbis). I still think that his encounter with G-d was very dramatic.

Brook,

I have heard several theories about the identity of the mysterious king of righteousness. I don't know who he was. And I am curious about how Abram came to know God. So I guess what we'll have to do is make it a point to ask the next time we see them.

I am curious about it too. If you look at the city where he lived...a city that was a center of Sin worship and you look at the fact that his daddy was an idol-maker...it really is interesting. Do we know where Noah was living at the time? Since Noah and Abram were contemporaries...maybe they met at one point?

There are so many questions that one might ask. I doubt that Noah and Abram had any significant contact. It seems there may have been an overlap -- though I am not willing to say there was certainly one -- but as far as I can see, Noah would have been near the end of his life, and Abram quite young. So, I guess it's more of a stretch than I am comfortable doing.

Larry,

That is a very good question and very difficult to answer. I guess the easier question to answer is what is keeping me from fully surrendering to God. I think that such answer would be a form of confession which may be quite uncomfortable to provide. Yet, contemplating on such a question brings about feelings of longing for God and a desire to fully submit to Him.
Staying in the aspiration side of a comment makes us sound great. Giving a direct answer, at least in my case, demolishes any praise that may be gained by the mentioned aspirations.
Thank you for the thought and for the comments made available in this site. I appreciate the content that I have come across. Thank you for the question.

Leave a comment












Loading tweets:

Follow us on Twitter!

  • David Magana said:
      Larry, That is a very good question and very difficult to answer. I...
  • Larry said:
      There are so many questions that one might ask. I doubt that Noah and ...
  • Brook Hayes said:
      I am curious about it too. If you look at the city where he lived...a...
  • Larry said:
      Brook, I have heard several theories about the identity of the myster...
  • Brook Hayes said:
      I certainly do not think that Abram was the only believer at the time ...
  • Larry said:
      Brook, After more consideration, I am not so certain that Abraham had...
  • Brook Hayes said:
      True...we do not know what Abram's encounter with G-d was like, but it...
  • Larry said:
      Brook, Thanks for your comments. A question: Given that most of us ha...
  • Brook Hayes said:
      This is a terrific question and discussion. As for myself, if I had...

home quodlibet journal theo blog sermons theology e-texts church history forum home